Monday, May 2, 2011

Depression, Teens, and Facebook

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC

There are recent reports concerning whether teen Facebook users experience an increase in depression. Researchers disagree whether this is a new type of depression or an extension of existing forms of depression. Teens with low self-esteem, school stress and family stress are vulnerable to depressions. The number of friends they have on Facebook, their status -- as well as the status of their friends, and the constantly updated photos may add to a teen feeling self critical and not "popular" enough. It can also add to feeling ostracized, bullied, or teased.

Social networks help teens feel more connected. Social networks have become the place teens "hang out." However, if that teen does not feel like they measure up to other teens, it can become a world of loneliness and a constant reminder of perceived shortcomings. In extreme cases, suicide notes have been posted on Facebook, which demonstrate the powerful connection teens feel toward their virtual and real friends. Social networks offer teens a skewed view of the real world and they don't have the brain development to understand this is not the real world.

If the teen's family is not engaged with the teen, the social network takes on a much more potent place in the teen's world. In fact, it may become the child's only world. Pediatricians are now encouraging parent's to talk with their kids about being online and how to recognize depression caused by social media, cyber bullying, sexting and other online risks.

Ten signs your teen may be depressed:

1. Loss of interest in activities, hobbies and other things they used to be very interested in.

2. More isolated -- never see them with their friends anymore.

3. Sleeping all the time or up in the middle of the night because they cannot sleep.

4. A loss or increase in appetite.

5. Notable weight loss or gain.

6. Lethargic or flat mood.

7. More irritable or easily frustrated.

8. A downward trend in grades.

9. Not wanting to go to school.

10. Weepy, labile moods.

If you see any of these signs with your teen and they last more than two weeks, it is time to talk to your teen and make an appointment with your pediatrician for an evaluation of depression. Depression is insidious and many times teens won't know they are depressed until the depression lifts. Depression can kill, but it is also curable.

About the Author;
 
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at http://www.starttalkingbook.com/ and more about Rapini at http://www.maryjorapini.com/.

4 comments:

Ben said...

Great article Mary Jo. I heard the phrase, there is no "app for good parenting." How do you recommend parents and kids talk about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable? We're trying to write a parent/child contract that defines what is acceptable and what isn't. Here's a copy of the draft///let me know what you think...
www.truecare.net/aup
best,

Finger Click Saver said...

Hello! First...new follower from Fun Tuesday Hop. Would love for you to return the love @ www.fingerclicksaver.com. Now on to commenting on your post. As a parent of a 13 yr. old, which I monitor her FB like no tomorrow...I have come to the conclusion FB is not a site for kids and teens, as they just don't have the social skills necessary to utilize such a site. My daughter knows how I am into her FB and knows how I am always on mine, so the issue isn't with her that has brought me to this conclusion but of other kids who she has as 'friends'. I have seen other kids lash out in ways they shouldn't, seen cyber bullying and in doing so have told the parent (the parent isn't an computer user) which has caused issues b/c I ran my mouth to the mother...but I don't care. The kids need to know what is not acceptable, and what is, if they are going to be on FB. I have seen one friend delete another friend b/c they get pissed. I think online sites, as such, just make a kids life harder than it should be, or may already be, or needs to be. Okay...sorry for my rant but I just couldn't resist commenting.

May said...

Very beautiful post.Is a must read.Am following from the tuesday hop.hope you visit me back and return the love,looking forward in reading more of your post,thanks
http://nzeremm.blogspot.com

Sandie lee said...

Thank you so much for your comment on my article. I recommend you go to my site and consider the girls' corner and blogs for help when you need it.

Happy Mother's Day. Mjo

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